It’s no secret that your every click is tracked online; what sites you visit, what ads you click, and what articles you read are all stored by the likes of Google, Facebook, and their ilk in order to create buyer personas to which they may better serve relevant ads.
However, despite the resources dedicated to creating these buyer personas, the jury is still out on how effective the algorithms are that determine buyer interest or intent. Despite the fact that 80 percent of international marketers surveyed by Forrester Consulting indicated that customer data analytics is valuable in predicting purchase intent, 61 percent agreed that compiling the data is very challenging. That said, the study, which was commissioned by Magnetic in February of 2015, shows the growing confidence in intent data among senior marketers.
Buyer Personas Key to Influence Marketing
While as consumers we may hate the ads served up in our social feeds, as marketers these might very well be the key to future influence marketing strategies. Critical success factors will include interpreting the data correctly and being creative with the ads created.
However, if intent data, which is the information collected from a person’s online activity that could indicate his or her future intent to purchase or act, is to be used effectively, marketers must first change their mindset so that identifying consumer personas and the factors that influence their purchase decisions (instead of identifying popular social media personalities) is the basis of marketing strategy.
Do you know what your customer life cycle is? What drives people into the sales funnel? What factors propel them from awareness to consideration? Who influences them to make the final decision when in the consideration stage and who could derail that decision? And let’s not forget the factors and people that push existing customers from satisfaction to loyalty and from loyalty to advocacy. The messages and people required to move consumers along this path are different at each stage.
It never ceases to amaze me how many marketers don’t immediately know the answer to these critical questions.
Use Intent Data to Drive Influence Advertising Strategy
Through the use of Internet cookies, intent data are collected to analyze the past behaviors of consumers and predict what they might do in the future. This information is the basis of re-targeting or re-marketing in the SEO world. Based on those predictions, we can leverage digital platforms to serve up more relevant advertising that will produce a higher click-through rate.
Yet, according to Trend Micro, 55% of consumers surveyed in the US, Europe, and Japan said that they “rarely” or “never” found these ads useful to them. Does this mean that intent data is not useful or that the data is not being analyzed correctly? Maybe. My perspective is that the ads chosen are more often than not the same or similar ads to those served to the general public. The issue with consumers finding ads relevant or not may not lie in the intent data but in the intent of the ad itself.
When developing those buyer personas, marketers and the networks must work to append intent data that would allow these personas to be more personalized into their likely position within the pre-purchase (awareness, consideration, decision-making) or post-purchase (satisfaction, loyalty, advocacy) life cycles. With this data in hand, adverting could be migrated to more personalized campaigns including product recommendations from peers culled from social networks or the Internet (similar to what Google is doing in its search results).
For advertising to be influential in acquiring or retaining customers, it must move beyond branding exercises and generic feature/benefit listing. We have an opportunity to use the growing data sets to turn intent data analysis into a highly personalized recommendation engine through online advertising.
Can intent data truly reflect buyer attitudes and predict purchase behaviors?
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